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Dealing with values that differ across concerned consumer groups and policy makers — values as elements in societal concerns

Publiceringsår: 2010
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 59-70
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Policy Responses to Societal Concerns in Food and Agriculture
Dokumenttyp: Del av eller Kapitel i bok
Förlag: OECD


Agricultural policies have always had a tendency to be controversial. In many cases they
generate major transfers of welfare between different groups of people, and hence are
favoured by some and criticised by others. They also frequently cause trouble at the
international level as domestic programmes interfere with trade flows and affect the
wellbeing of people in other parts of the world. In addition to these more ―traditional‖
problems though, agricultural policy makers have more recently been faced with several
issues that are even more controversial. Animal welfare, environmental implications,
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), quality and safety of food products and social
conditions of production are just a few examples of issues where modern societies have
concerns, often arising out of widely diverging views on what is right and wrong.
Responding appropriately to such societal concerns and identifying the ―best‖ policies to
solve these issues has often proven difficult for policy makers, be it in a domestic setting or
typically even more intricate — in an international context. In order to throw at least some
light on such policy problems, the OECD has decided to invest some effort in analysing such
societal concerns and the respective policy responses. The workshop of which an overview is
provided here was part of this effort.
Societal concerns are a multi-faceted phenomenon — and the presentations and
discussions throughout the workshop were equally multi-faceted. They originated from a
wide spectrum of disciplines, all the way from philosophy, through political science, law,
veterinary science and economics, to practical policy making. The perspectives brought to
bear on the issue of how to deal with societal concerns ranged from academic thought
through international organisations, industry and agriculture to decision making in
governments. The mood among participants of the workshop oscillated between slight
frustration with the complexity of the issues covered, to mild optimism regarding the
availability of practical options for policy responses to at least some of the concerns society
expresses about what happens in the field of agriculture and food. The workshop covered
many dimensions of the theme, but in the limited amount of time available could not
possibly have dealt with everything one would want to know about the nature of and
constructive policy responses to societal concerns. This overview is an attempt, necessarily
somewhat subjective, at highlighting some of the major lessons learned during the workshop,
while also indicating some of the open questions remaining. It begins by commenting on the
nature of societal concerns, proceeds to looking at possible resolutions, poses some questions
not much covered by the workshop, and ends by drawing some tentative conclusions
regarding the potential role of international organisation in dealing with societal concerns.



  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)



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